March 16, 2015

World Grand Prix Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:28 am


‘In the seaside town, that they forgot to bomb, come come come nuclear bomb’

But it’s a blessing in disguise that they did forget, or else Llandudno would never have been able to stage the new World Grand Prix, which starts today and runs until Sunday at the very creatively titled ‘Venue Cymru’ or Wales Venue for anyone who doesn’t speak Welsh (thank me for the translation later).

This new event on the calendar is not so much an invitational as it brings together the highest ranked players over the last 18 tournaments starting with the 2014 World Championship up to the 2015 Gdynia Open. Thus providing us with the best indication of who’s in form going into the business end of the season. Quite how Ding Junhui has managed to squeeze in is anyone’s guess as I’m struggling to remember the last time I saw him win.

Unfortunately, this is AGAIN the best of 7 frames for the majority of the tournament. I don’t know about you but I’m sick of best of 7’s now and can’t wait until the World Championship and the tests that lie ahead in that over the longer format, both in terms of the qualifiers and the main event. It can’t come soon enough for a bluff old traditionalist like me who gets bored rigid seeing best of 7’s hijacking our entire sport.

We are told that this is ‘what the audience want’ without any actual evidence to back this up other than a tired rather patronising old anecdote about shortening attention spans. If you assume that your ‘audience’ are actually people who like snooker, then you assume that they would describe themselves to varying degrees as a ‘snooker fan’, I am yet to meet or discuss this issue with anyone who falls into this bracket who thinks best of 7’s are the way forward. Whatever you say, this format belittles a tournament and nobody likes to see the same format being trotted out over and over and over again.

One good aspect of this however is that it sees the return of Jill and the gang in the ITV studio. They provide excellent coverage without treating the armchair fans as idiots, like the BBC so often do. They employ people who know who all the players actually are, and the whole thing works very well. For that reason I will probably be switching on this week regardless of the frustrations I have about the short format.

Today’s highlight is probably the real tortoise and the hare affair later on between my mate Rod and Ronnie. But there is enough there in every session to keep you interested.

European viewers, that is those outside the UK, can watch this on Eurosport, so everyone’s a winner. Talking of winners, the recommended 33/1 on Michael White to win in India landed, I had a feeling that his win in the Shootout, however dreadful it may be, might just lead to him upping his game a notch. Often, players as good as him just need that first tournament win to break into the big time and surely he is heading towards the top 8 sooner rather than later, maybe even higher, he’s certainly good enough.

I’ll be surprised if he lands the treble, he can be backed at 66/1 if anyone disagrees. For me though this will see a more established name lifting the trophy and bagging the 100 grand first prize at the end of it.

Recommended Bets: 2 points on Mark Selby at 8/1. 2 points on Neil Robertson at 15/2. 1 point each way on Mark Allen at 25/1.

Mark Selby v Michael Holt
Martin Gould v Alan McManus

NB 2pm
Stephen Maguire v Xiao Guodong
Stuart Bingham v Anthony McGill

Neil Robertson v Luca Brecel
Barry Hawkins v Matt Selt

NB 8pm
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Rod Lawler
Mark Allen v Liang Wenbo

Shaun Murphy v Peter Ebdon
Joe Perry v Ben Woollaston

NB 2pm
Ricky Walden v Ding Junhui
Marco Fu v Dark Mavis

John Higgins v Graeme Dott
Mark Williams v Ryan Day

NB 8pm
Judd Trump v Dominic Dale
Robert Milkins v Michael White

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